Sunday, 15 September 2019

15/09/2019 - cataredaction (the eyes to the left have it)

With the failure to pass the visual field test ultimately being the reason behind the loss of my UK driving license, I started to wonder why it had happened now, after all this time had passed since the last bout of surgery that I had been subjected to. The only thing that I could think of which might have affected the result was the slow forming cataract that I have had in my left eye for the last several years. This was something that I had never been desperate to get removed as, until now, it had never caused me much of an issue. However, the option for it to be taken out had been touted to me by several consultants at previous hospital eye screenings. Perhaps then the time had now come to explore this option as a way of creating a chance of regaining my driving licence. At the very least though, further examination would hopefully indicate that whatever led to the failure of the test wasn't anything that was going to end up being be over aggressively negatively progressive, (I'm pretty sure that I've never strung those three words together before!)

Whilst I have been under the care of the eye hospital for a number of years, getting in to see a consultant again hasn't proved to be as easy as previous consultants have made it sound. The receptionist at the hospital informed me that I would need to get a referral from my doctors. The doctor upon referral was further informed that they would need a referral from an opticians. So it has gone from being told directly in the hospital some 8 months ago that if I wanted to get it removed then I should just get in contact with them, to having a few, seemingly unnecessary yet necessary links now added to the chain.

A trip to specsavers was step one. Here I needed to just get my eyes assessed and a referral made to the Doc. The first thing that specsavers did however was to update the records that they have on me and then scan my face so they could predict which glasses would suit my ever more rounded chops. This approach does tend to sow the seed that perhaps, your are there to be sold stuff first and be assessed second, but hey, that's astigmatism of capitalism for you.

To be fair there was little to complain about the actual assessment side of things. Eye pressures were taken, with the results showing that the pressure was higher than they would have liked in the left eye but everything in the right seemed fine. Surprisingly however, I didn't now meet the criteria for having the operation that I had been told I would be eligible for previously. Primarily the was because I am able (with glasses on) to read (with difficulty) text above the minimum level that they feel is required. The optician also went on to divulge however that if she was the person do the operation, it wouldn't be one that she would be happy doing. The process she said would be more complicated in part down to the extensive treatments that I have had to undergo in the past. Combined with the diabetic aspect, the process, in her opinion, would be far more dangerous than it would be normally. The risk is that this operation, simple and routine for many, could in my case instead of improving things, result in a degeneration or blindness in the affected eye.

A plus point however that there wasn't any sign of any active changes in the eye. Whilst good to know things are looking stable overall, this does makes the change that has occured in the vision a little bit more perplexing.

There was something else they wanted to try though to see if it made a difference. 

The glasses that I had been using have a fairly narrow lens, a little like looking through a wide screen TV with the bottom and the top of the picture missing from the picture. It was therefor suggested that perhaps it would be worth trying a larger set of glasses in order to cover more of the visual field. Then, with the new glasses on I could try the same DVLA test again with the new set on to see if it made any differenc whatsoever.

This was something that I thought was worth a punt.
The result was the however was same.

Instead of being in the opticians for a 30 minute appointment, I had now lost 5 hours of the day, the vision would still be a fail, I had become stressed to the max and thanks to the investment in new glasses, I was now £160 worse off. Glasses that I didn't particularly need. Glasses I didn't particularly like. Maybe that was just my fault for wanting to try almost anything I could to get an answer to one of my particular ills. I haven't been to pick up my second set yet. I really don't feel the need.

So where do I find myself (apart from in a rather nice cafe having breakfast and coffee)?

In truth, based on the information currently to hand, I probably won't go for the cataract removal. The risk vs the potential (not likely) reward just isn't worth it in my opinion. There is no guarantee that any operation would improve things, but at the moment there is no other route. I do not know how long the eye will be useful, how long it will take to decline or whether it actually will. It's difficult to get across how this realisation makes me feel. My head went a little bit light and I certainly felt more than a little nauseous. I started to feel like I needed a nice cup of tea.

It was a very British response I guess, but an old school British. Not the post Cambridge Analytica, falsely outraged, brexity, everyone else's fault “British”.

Just an “I need a cup of tea” British. The type of British I tried to be. The Michael Palin type of British.

The best kind.

sub note - (ping)

Originally on completion of my studies and with my newly completed degree to hand, I had planned to work for a couple of months in the U.K before heading away in search of work, adventure or both. My old employers initially welcomed me back on that basis, but let it be known that they would be keen for me to stay longer and, with the eye situation as it was, I told them that I would give them as long as they needed me around. As always I have been straight with them about everything. In my mind I was thinking any operation would have a waiting time of at least 6 to 12 months so would be happy to commit to at least 6. To their credit they have just turned around and taken me back on permanently in the knowledge that some point future I was likely going to leave again. 

I don't think that this is solely down to me being an amazing employee in the past however but probably does have something to do with it being less paperwork for them to complete their end.

It's hard to get enthused about sitting through another cold, wet UK winter, especially one in a place with shitty public transport and devoid of a car or my own. This is going to be a winter of riding my newly purchased pushbike with handle bars to steer wider that those of any steer or bison. I do so in the hope my eye doesn't deteriorate to the point that future travel or work becomes something that is a more daunting prospect. Time, of course will tell. These are challenging times for sure, but everyone has them don't they. Its at times like these when its useful to remember the words of the great Rocky Balboa, who once eloquently quipped that "it's not (mumble mumble mumble) you can hit, it's (mumble mumble mumble hard (mumble) can get hit and get back up" Perhaps that's not quite up there with his previous "if I can change, and he can change, then we all can change" speech after he tussled that big Russian guy, but it's pretty damned close to be sure. It's pretty damned close.

sub sub note.

I found myself looking at a map of Asia again recently as I wanted to see how close Phuket (that I've never been to) was to Krabi (that I had). I was soon drawn to looking at where I had been again, and perhaps more tellingly, where I hadn't.

So perhaps it's not all over yet.

Perhaps it's time to try something new.